High flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy versus non-invasive ventilation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with acute-moderate hypercapnic respiratory failure: an observational cohort study

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2019 Jun 5;14:1229-1237. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S206567. eCollection 2019.


Background: High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy in acute hypoxic respiratory failure is becoming increasingly popular. However, evidence to support the use of HFNC in acute respiratory failure (ARF) with hypercapnia is limited.

Methods: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients with moderate hypercapnic ARF (arterial blood gas pH 7.25-7.35, PaCO2>50 mmHg) who received HFNC or non-invasive ventilation (NIV) in the intensive care uint from April 2016 to March 2018 were analyzed retrospectively. The endpoint was treatment failure, defined as either invasive ventilation, or a switch to the other study treatment (NIV for patients in the NFNC group, and vice-versa), and 28-day mortality.

Results: Eighty-two COPD patients (39 in the HFNC group and 43 in the NIV group) were enrolled in this study. The mean age was 71.8±8.2 and 54 patients (65.9%) were male. The treatment failed in 11 out of 39 patients with HFNC (28.2%) and in 17 of 43 patients with NIV (39.5%) (P=0.268). No significant differences were found for 28-day mortality (15.4% in the HFNC group and 14% in the NIV group, P=0.824). During the first 24 hrs of treatment, the number of nursing airway care interventions in the HFNC group was significantly less than in the NIV group, while the duration of device application was significantly longer in the HFNC group (all P<0.05). Skin breakdown was significantly more common in the NIV group (20.9% vs 5.1%, P<0.05).

Conclusion: Among COPD patients with moderate hypercarbic ARF, the use of HFNC compared with NIV did not result in increased rates of treatment failure, while there were fewer nursing interventions and skin breakdown episodes reported in the HFNC group.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases; cohort study; high-flow nasal cannula; non-invasive ventilation; respiratory failure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cannula*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / diagnosis
  • Hypercapnia / mortality
  • Hypercapnia / physiopathology
  • Hypercapnia / therapy*
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noninvasive Ventilation* / adverse effects
  • Noninvasive Ventilation* / mortality
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / adverse effects
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / mortality
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / mortality
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Failure